After wrapping up a U.S. tour, the members of Glasgow-based Frightened Rabbit have been sequestered in a house south of Galveston, Texas, writing and recording roughs for a new album. Last night, they shared a song and posted a photo of the handwritten lyrics, with scratched-out phrases and all. It’s an arrival without the usual major-label social media arm-waving. And it’s altogether fitting that an expression of such aching beauty should enter this way on a Saturday morning, as if a friend slipped an unmarked CD under your dorm room door.
“This isn’t about me. It’s about the avenues, crescents, streets, and lanes we’ve not been to — windows we don’t peek through” Scott Hutchison ruminates in “Fields of Wheat.” The track — a bedroom confessional in the vein of Elliott Smith or Jose Gonzalez — is framed by a finger-picked meditation on acoustic guitar (Simon Liddell) and overlaid with touches of gauzy organ (Andy Monaghan). The latter builds to a not-quite-dissonant fuzz two-thirds of the way through — just enough to color the mood a few shades darker.
“Fields of Wheat” strips away the sweaty, sweary bombast of a Frightened Rabbit concert to reveal the persistent, oft-hidden anxieties of modern life. It’s a reminder that behind the major-label fixtures, masterful studio production, and festival stages, is a bunch of boys barely out of their 20s, pushing bodies and psyches to the limit to bring these songs to life, to capture honest sentiments in tumultuous times.
As outsiders, we can’t know the personal narratives behind the music embedded in our collective unconscious. But we can imagine. And I envision a series of liminal spaces — between city and ocean, dusk and dawn, an American administration careening out of control and a UK climate of mutiny against an attempted Tory chokehold.
There’s a certain melancholy here that reflects not so much regret, as the process of reckoning — an accounting of where we stand after the adrenaline of the road wears off and the longing for home re-enters. It’s fragile, but not frail. And it’s a lovely way to start your weekend.